Nothing is easier than making coffee from a single-serving pod. It’s quick, clean, efficient, and almost always comes out well. We love anything that’s convenient, but the waste from K-Cups is quickly piling up.

Coffee pods represent a quarter of the coffee market, according to a new study by MarketWatch. And that number is rising—2013 sales nearly tripled 2011 sales.

Just take the popular single-serving coffee brand Nespresso, which had sold more than 27 billion pods worldwide as of 2012. The machines are so widely used that they can even be found in over 700 Michelin-starred restaurants around the world.


Quartz reports,

In the US, coffee pod machines sales have multiplied more than six-fold over the past six years—from 1.8 million units in 2008, to 11.6 million in 2013, according to data from market research firm Euromonitor. Meanwhile, drip coffee maker sales have been pretty stagnant.”

The ground coffee vs. K-Cup data is presented in the graph below, which shows that K-Cups now account for 26% of ground coffee sales.


What’s great for the coffee market is not necessarily healthy for the environment.

Green Mountain, one of the most popular K-Cup brands, sells cups that are only 5% recyclable material. Which is, frankly, not a concern to us at 6am every morning when we’re barely awake.

Mother Jones reports that Keurig aims to make all of its pods biodegradable by 2020. But at the rate the trash is growing, it may not be soon enough.

Mother Jones‘ Maddie Oatman writes:

“In 2013, Green Mountain produced 8.3 billion K-Cups, enough to wrap around the equator 10.5 times. If Green Mountain aims to have ‘a Keurig System on every counter,’ as the company states in its latest annual report, that’s a hell of a lot of little cups.”

We recommend picking up a pack of reusable K-Cups.

Sure, it’s a little more work, but it’ll be worth it when we’re not all buried under coffee trash.

[via Quartz]